oversight

Computer-Based Patient Records: Short-Term Progress Made, but Much Work Remains to Achieve a Two-Way Data Exchange Between VA and DOD Health Systems

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 2003-11-19.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

                               United States General Accounting Office

GAO                            Testimony
                               Before the Subcommittee on Oversight
                               and Investigations, Committee on
                               Veterans' Affairs, House of
                               Representatives
For Release on Delivery
Expected at 10:30 a.m. EST
Wednesday, November 19, 2003   COMPUTER-BASED
                               PATIENT RECORDS
                               Short-Term Progress Made,
                               but Much Work Remains to
                               Achieve a Two-Way Data
                               Exchange Between VA and
                               DOD Health Systems
                               Statement of Linda D. Koontz, Director
                               Information Management Issues




GAO-04-271T
                                                November 19, 2003


                                                COMPUTER-BASED PATIENT RECORDS

                                                Short-Term Progress Made, But Much
Highlights of GAO-04-271T, a report to the      Work Remains to Achieve A Two-Way
Subcommittee on Oversight and
Investigations, House Committee on              Data Exchange Between VA and DOD
Veterans' Affairs
                                                Health Systems


For the past 5 years, the                       Access to medical data that includes information on the entire lives of
Departments of Veterans Affairs                 veterans and active duty military personnel represents an enormous step
and Defense have been working to                toward enhanced and more effective medical care. VA and DOD are pursuing
exchange health care data and                   this goal in two stages.
create electronic records for
veterans and active duty personnel.
Such exchange is seen as a means
                                                •    Federal Health Information Exchange. This current, one-way
of reducing the billions of dollars                  transfer of health care data from DOD to VA is already allowing
that the departments spend                           clinicians in VA medical centers to make faster, more informed decisions
annually on health care services                     through ready access to information on almost 2 million patients,
and making such data more readily                    thereby improving their level of health care delivery. The program’s
accessible to those treating our                     fiscal year 2003 cost was just over $11 million.
country’s approximately 13 million
veterans, military personnel, and               •    HealthePeople (Federal). The realization of this longer term strategy
dependents. This is especially                       to enable electronic, two-way information sharing is farther out on the
critical when military personnel are                 horizon. The departments are proceeding with projects that are expected
engaged in conflicts all over the
                                                     to result in a limited two-way exchange of health data by the end of 2005.
world, and their health records can
reside at multiple locations.                        However, VA and DOD face significant challenges in implementing a full
                                                     data exchange capability. Although a high-level strategy exists, the
GAO has reported on these efforts                    departments have not yet clearly articulated a common health
several times, most recently in                      information infrastructure and architecture to show how they intend to
September 2002. At the request of                    achieve the data exchange capability or what they will be able to
the Subcommittee, GAO is                             exchange by the end of 2005. In addition, critical to achieving the two-
updating its observations on the                     way exchange will be completing the standardization of the clinical data
departments’ efforts, focusing on                    that these departments plan to share. Without standardization, the task
(1) the reported status of the                       of sharing meaningful data could be more complex and may not prove
ongoing, one-way exchange of data,                   successful.
the Federal Health Information
Exchange, and (2) progress toward
achieving the longer term two-way
exchange under the HealthePeople                 VA, DOD Systems to Support Two-Way Data Exchange Strategy
(Federal) initiative.                            VA                          Projected                DOD
                                                 Initiatives                 Completion               Initiatives
                                                                                                      Graphical User Interface,
                                                                             2005                     General Dentistry
                                                 Health Data Repository,                              Pharmacy, Laboratory,
                                                 Billing Replacement         2006                     Radiology, Immunizations
                                                 Laboratory                   2007                      Inpatient and Scheduling
                                                 Pharmacy                     2008                      Additional Capabilities as Defined
                                                 Imaging                      2011
                                                 Appointment Scheduling
                                                 Replacement                  2012
                                                Source: VA and DOD.




www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-04-271T.

To view the full product, including the scope
and methodology, click on the link above.
For more information, contact Linda D.
Koontz at (202) 512-6240 or
koontzl@gao.gov.
Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee:

Thank you for inviting us to testify on actions of the Department of
Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Department of Defense (DOD) to achieve
the ability to exchange patient health care data and create an electronic
record for veterans and active duty personnel. VA and DOD, collectively,
provided health care services to approximately 13 million veterans,
military personnel, and dependents at a cost of about $47 billion in fiscal
year 2002. While in military status and later as veterans, many patients
tend to be highly mobile and, consequently, their health records may be at
multiple federal and nonfederal medical facilities, both in and outside of
the United States. Thus, having readily accessible data on active duty
personnel and veterans is important to facilitate providing quality health
care to them.

VA and DOD have been pursuing ways to share data in their health
information systems and create electronic records since 1998, their actions
following the President’s call for the development of an interface to allow
the two departments to share patient health information.1 Since
undertaking this mission, however, the departments have faced
considerable challenges, leading to repeated changes in the focus of their
initiative and the target dates for its accomplishment. Our prior reports
supporting the initiative2 noted disappointing progress, exacerbated in
large part by inadequate accountability and poor planning and oversight,
which raised doubts about the departments’ ability to achieve an
electronic interface among their health information systems. When we last
reported on the initiative in September 2002,3 VA and DOD had taken some
actions aimed at strengthening their joint efforts. For example, they had


1
 In 1996, the Presidential Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans’ Illnesses reported on
many deficiencies in VA’s and DOD’s data capabilities for handling service members’ health
information. In November 1997, the President called for the two agencies to start
developing a “comprehensive, life-long medical record for each service member,” and in
1998 issued a directive requiring VA and DOD to develop a “computer-based patient record
system that will accurately and efficiently exchange information.”
2
 U.S. General Accounting Office, Computer-Based Patient Records: Better Planning and
Oversight by VA, DOD, and IHS [Indian Health Service] Would Enhance Health Data
Sharing, GAO-01-459 (Washington, D.C.: Apr. 30, 2001); VA Information Technology:
Progress Made, but Continued Management Attention Is Key to Achieving Results,
GAO-02-369T (Washington, D.C.: Mar. 13, 2002); and VA Information Technology:
Management Making Important Progress in Addressing Key Challenges GAO-02-1054T
(Washington, D.C.: Sept. 26, 2002).
3
GAO-02-1054T.



Page 1                                      GAO-04-271T VA/DOD Health Data Exchange
                   clarified key roles and responsibilities for the initiative and begun
                   executing revised near- and long-term strategies for achieving the
                   electronic information exchange capability.

                   My statement today will discuss our observations regarding VA’s and
                   DOD’s continued actions over the past year to further their
                   implementation of the electronic information exchange, including an
                   update on (1) the status and reported benefits of the ongoing near-term
                   initiative, the Federal Health Information Exchange (FHIE), and (2) the
                   departments’ progress and challenges in achieving the longer term, two-
                   way exchange of data under the HealthePeople (Federal) initiative.

                   In conducting this work, we obtained and reviewed relevant
                   documentation and interviewed key agency officials regarding VA’s
                   decisions and actions, in conjunction with DOD, to develop an electronic
                   medical record for exchanging patient information. We analyzed the
                   departments’ plans and strategies for the HealthePeople (Federal)
                   initiative and data on patient information that is currently being
                   transmitted by DOD to VA. In addition, to observe data retrieval
                   capabilities of the Federal Health Information Exchange, we conducted a
                   site visit at the VA medical center in Washington, D.C. We performed our
                   work in accordance with generally accepted government auditing
                   standards, from March through November 2003.


                   The current one-way transfer of health information resulting from the
Results in Brief   departments’ near-term solution—the Federal Health Information
                   Exchange—represents a positive undertaking that has begun enabling
                   information sharing between DOD and VA. As part of the initiative,
                   electronic health data from separated (retired or discharged) service
                   members contained in DOD’s Military Health System Composite Health
                   Care System are being transmitted monthly to a VA FHIE repository,4
                   which VA clinicians access through the department’s current health
                   system, the Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology
                   Architecture. As a result, VA clinicians now have more readily accessible
                   DOD health data, such as laboratory, pharmacy, and radiology records, on
                   almost 2 million patients and have noted the benefits of this current
                   capability in improving health care delivery. Further, although not




                   4
                   A repository is an information system used to store and access data.



                   Page 2                                      GAO-04-271T VA/DOD Health Data Exchange
             originally included in the FHIE plan, VA officials have stated that efforts
             are underway to provide access to outpatient and retail pharmacy data.

             Realizing the departments’ longer term strategy—HealthePeople
             (Federal)—is farther out on the horizon. VA officials have stated that the
             departments are on schedule to provide a limited capability for an
             electronic, two-way exchange of patient health information by the end of
             2005. However, VA and DOD face significant challenges in implementing a
             full data exchange capability. Although a high-level strategy exists, the
             departments have not yet clearly articulated a common health information
             infrastructure and architecture to show how they intend to achieve the
             data exchange capability or what exactly they will be able to exchange by
             the end of 2005. In addition, critical to achieving the two-way exchange
             will be completing the standardization of the clinical data that these
             departments plan to share. Without standardization, the task of sharing
             meaningful data is made more complex, and may not prove successful.
             Until these essential issues are resolved, the departments cannot be
             assured that the HealthePeople (Federal) initiative will deliver expected
             benefits within established time frames.


             In 1998, VA and DOD, along with the Indian Health Service (IHS), began
Background   the Government Computer-Based Patient Record (GCPR) project—an
             initiative to share patient health care data. At that time, each agency
             collected and maintained patient health information in separate systems,
             and their health facilities could not electronically share patient health
             information across agency lines. GCPR was envisioned as an electronic
             interface that would allow physicians and other authorized users at VA,
             DOD, and IHS health facilities to access data from any of the other
             agencies’ health facilities. The interface was expected to compile
             requested patient information in a “virtual” record that could be displayed
             on a user’s computer screen.

             In reporting on the initiative in April 2001,5 we raised doubts about GCPR’s
             ability to provide expected benefits. We noted that the project was
             experiencing schedule and cost overruns and was operating without clear
             goals, objectives, and consistent leadership. We recommended that the
             participating agencies (1) designate a lead entity with final decision-
             making authority and establish a clear line of authority for the GCPR


             5
             GAO-01-459.



             Page 3                                GAO-04-271T VA/DOD Health Data Exchange
project, and (2) create comprehensive and coordinated plans that included
an agreed-upon mission and clear goals, objectives, and performance
measures, to ensure that the agencies could share comprehensive,
meaningful, accurate, and secure patient health care data. VA, DOD, and
IHS agreed with our findings and recommendations.

In March 2002, however, we again reported that the project was continuing
to operate without clear lines of authority or a lead entity responsible for
final decision-making.6 Further, the project continued to move forward
without comprehensive and coordinated plans, including an agreed-upon
mission and clear goals, objectives, and performance measures. In
addition, the participating agencies had announced a revised strategy that
was considerably less encompassing than the project was originally
intended to be. For example, rather than serve as an interface to allow
data sharing across the three agencies’ disparate systems, as originally
envisioned, the revised strategy initially called only for a one-way transfer
of data from DOD’s current health care information system to a separate
database that VA hospitals could access. In further reporting on this
initiative in June 2002, we recommended that VA, DOD, and IHS revise the
original goals and objectives of the project to align with their current
strategy, commit the executive support necessary to adequately manage
the project, and ensure that it followed sound project management
principles.7

When we last testified on the initiative in September 2002,8 VA had
reported some progress toward achieving shared patient health care data
and the two departments had formally revised both the name and the
strategy for the initiative. Specifically, the two departments had renamed
the project the Federal Health Information Exchange (FHIE) Program. In
addition, consistent with our prior recommendation, they had finalized a
memorandum of agreement designating VA as the lead entity in
implementing FHIE.

With this agreement, FHIE became a joint effort between VA and DOD to
achieve the exchange of health care information in two phases. The first


6
GAO-02-369T.
7
 U.S. General Accounting Office, Veterans Affairs: Sustained Management Attention Is
Key to Achieving Information Technology Results, GAO-02-703 (Washington, D.C.:
June 12, 2002).
8
GAO-02-1054T.



Page 4                                     GAO-04-271T VA/DOD Health Data Exchange
                       phase, completed in mid-July 2002, enabled the one-way transfer of data
                       from DOD’s existing health care information system to a separate database
                       that VA hospitals could access.

                       Further, the revised strategy envisioned VA and DOD pursuing a longer
                       term, two-way exchange of clinical information.9 This initiative, known as
                       HealthePeople (Federal), is premised upon the departments’ development
                       of a common health information infrastructure and architecture
                       comprising standardized data, communications, security, and high-
                       performance health information systems. The departments developed the
                       strategy for achieving the two-way exchange in September 2002 and
                       anticipated achieving a limited capability by the end of 2005.


                       Over the past year, VA and DOD have continued to realize success in the
VA AND DOD             implementation and use of FHIE. In achieving the exchange of health care
Continue to Report     information, electronic data from separated (retired or discharged) service
                       members contained in DOD’s Military Health System Composite Health
Success in             Care System (CHCS) are being transmitted monthly to a VA FHIE
Implementing the       repository, which VA clinicians access through the Computerized Patient
                       Record System (CPRS) in the Veterans Health Information Systems and
Feeral Health          Technology Architecture (VistA), VA’s current health care system. This
Information Exchange   information exchange capability is currently available to all VA medical
Near-Term Solution     centers and has given VA clinicians the ability to access and display the
                       data through CPRS remote data views10 about 6 weeks after the service
                       member’s separation. VA and DOD reported spending about $11 million in
                       fiscal year 2003 to cover completion and maintenance of FHIE.

                       According to program officials, FHIE is showing positive results by
                       providing a wide range of health care information to enable clinicians to
                       make faster and more informed decisions regarding the care of veterans.
                       The officials stated that the repository presently contains data on almost 2
                       million patients. This includes clinical data on almost 1.8 million personnel
                       who separated from the military between 1987 and June 2003. The data
                       consist of over 23 million laboratory records, 24 million pharmacy records,
                       and over 4 million radiology records. A second phase of the FHIE


                       9
                        IHS, which had been a part of the early efforts, was not included in FHIE, but was
                       expected to assume a role in the longer term project—HealthePeople (Federal).
                       10
                        CPRS remote data views is an application that allows authorized users to access patient
                       health care data from any VA medical facility.



                       Page 5                                       GAO-04-271T VA/DOD Health Data Exchange
                         initiative, completed in September 2003, added to the base of health
                         information available to VA clinicians by including discharge summaries;11
                         allergy information; admissions, disposition, and transfer information; and
                         consultation results. A clinician at VA’s Washington, D.C. medical center
                         noted that the information provided through FHIE has proved particularly
                         valuable for treating emergency-room and first-time patients by providing
                         ready access to information on patients’ existing medical conditions and
                         current drug prescriptions.

                         The program manager added that FHIE is providing ready access to health
                         information. It is currently capable of accommodating up to 800 queries
                         per hour, with an average response rate of 4 seconds per query. For the
                         month of September 2003, VA clinicians made over 1,900 authorized
                         queries to the database. Further, as we observed during an FHIE
                         demonstration at the medical center, the capability has resulted in an
                         almost instantaneous display of DOD patient data in the same format as
                         other data residing in CPRS, thus facilitating its use.

                         Although nearing completion, VA officials indicated, additional patient
                         information from DOD will be added to the FHIE database. For example,
                         they stated that efforts are currently under way to add, by the end of
                         December, outpatient pharmacy data (such as mail order and retail
                         pharmacy profiles) that are housed in DOD’s Pharmacy Data Transaction
                         Service, and by the end of February 2004, other outpatient records.


                         Beyond FHIE, VA and DOD are proceeding with a joint, long-term strategy
Actions Toward a         involving the two-way exchange of clinical information. Under this
Common Health            strategy, VA and DOD plan to seek opportunities for sharing existing
                         systems and technology and explore the convergence of VA and DOD
Information              health information applications consistent with mission requirements.
Infrastructure Are       According to the Veterans Health Administration’s Acting Deputy Chief
                         Information Officer (CIO) for Health, and the Military Health System’s
Progressing, but         CIO, this joint VA/DOD initiative is expected to allow the secured sharing
Significant Challenges   of health data required by their health care providers between systems
Remain                   that each is currently developing—DOD’s Composite Health Care System
                         II (CHCS II) and VA’s HealtheVet VistA. Critical to achieving this capability
                         is an interface to allow the exchange of patient health information
                         between each system’s data repository.


                         11
                          Discharge summaries will include inpatient histories, diagnoses, and procedures.



                         Page 6                                      GAO-04-271T VA/DOD Health Data Exchange
                          Under the HealthePeople (Federal) strategy, upon entering military
                          service, a health record for the service member will be created and stored
                          in DOD’s CHCS II clinical data repository. The record will remain in the
                          clinical data repository and be updated as the service member receives
                          medical care. When the individual separates from active duty and, if
                          eligible, seeks medical care at a VA facility, VA will then create a medical
                          record for the individual, which will be stored in its health data repository.
                          Upon viewing the medical record, the VA clinician would be alerted and
                          provided access to clinical information on the individual also residing in
                          DOD’s repository. In the same manner, when a veteran seeks medical care
                          at a military treatment facility, the attending DOD clinician would be
                          alerted and provided access to the clinical information existing in VA’s
                          repository. According to VA and DOD, the planned approach would make
                          virtual medical records displaying all available clinical information from
                          the two repositories accessible to both departments’ clinicians.


VA and DOD Are Making     VA’s and DOD’s joint strategy for accomplishing the two-way exchange of
Progress, but Full        health information, developed in September 2002, depends on successfully
Implementation of Joint   implementing and achieving an electronic interface between individual
                          health information systems that each department is currently developing.
Strategy Is Years Away    These systems development efforts began as separate, department-specific
                          initiatives in which VA aimed to enhance its existing health information
                          system utilizing modern tools and languages, and DOD aimed to replace
                          several of its health information systems to achieve cost efficiencies and a
                          computer-based patient record. Work on modernizing VA’s new system,
                          HealtheVet (VistA), began in 2001, and development of DOD’s new system,
                          CHCS II, began in 1997.

                          Since establishing the strategy, VA and DOD have made some progress on
                          systems development efforts that will support achieving health data
                          exchange. Currently, VA and DOD are in different stages of completing
                          their systems. As shown in table 1, VA began work on one of the key
                          initiatives intended to support HealthePeople (Federal)—the health data
                          repository—in June 2001; it is currently testing the design of this database.
                          VA plans to complete the repository by July 2006; it projects completing all
                          six initiatives comprising HealtheVet (VistA) over the next 9 years, with a
                          final module on scheduling replacement expected in May 2012.




                          Page 7                                GAO-04-271T VA/DOD Health Data Exchange
Table 1: HealtheVet (VistA) Initiatives

 HealtheVet Initiative        Purpose                                                   Initiative Start Date Projected Completion Date
 Health Data Repository       Establish a repository of clinical information normally   June 2001            2006
 (HDR)                        residing on one or more independent platforms
 Billing Replacement          Obtain a modern, high- performance billing system that April 2002              2006
                              will support an increase to third- party payments
 Laboratory                  Clinically oriented system designed to provide data to     February 2003        2007
                             health care personnel
 Pharmacy                     Facilitate improved VA pharmacy operations, customer April 2002                2008
                              service, and patient safety, concurrent with the pursuit
                              of full reengineering of VA pharmacy applications
 Imaging                      Provide complete online data to healthcare providers, to October 2002          2011
                              increase clinician productivity, facilitate medical
                              decision-making, and improve quality of care
 Appointment Scheduling       Provide VistA users with a redesigned scheduling          May 2001             2012
 Replacement                  capability to better meet the needs of VHA facility staff
                              and patients
Source: VA

                                               As table 2 reflects, DOD is incrementally deploying CHCS II in five blocks,
                                               with each block providing additional capabilities to its system. The
                                               department is currently proceeding with limited deployment of its
                                               graphical user interface for clinical outpatient processes. In addition, DOD
                                               has completed its clinical data repository, and a department official stated
                                               that as each site implements CHCS II, data in CHCS will be converted to
                                               the new system. DOD expects to complete deployment of all of its major
                                               system capabilities by September 2008.

Table 2: CHCS II Deployment Information

 Block Number         Major Capabilities                     Status                                          Projected Completion Date
   1 (release 1)       Adds a graphical user interface for    Limited deployment underway                     September 2005
                       clinical outpatient processes
   2 (release 2)       Support for general dentistry          Deployment to Operation, Test & Evaluation      September 2005
                                                              sites during the 2nd Qtr of FY04
   3 (releases 3&4)    Provides pharmacy, laboratory,         Plan under way to award a contract for Block    September 2006
                       radiology, and immunizations           3 in 2nd Qtr FY 04 and begin requirements
                       capabilities                           analysis by 4th Qtr FY04
   4 (releases 5&6)    Provides inpatient and scheduling      Begin requirements development and              September 2007
                       capabilities                           analysis in 2nd Qtr FY 04
   5 (release 7)       Additional Capabilities as Defined     Begin requirements development and              September 2008
                                                              analysis in early 1st Qtr FY05
Source: DOD.




                                               Page 8                                       GAO-04-271T VA/DOD Health Data Exchange
                       Although VA and DOD officials do not expect their departments’ systems
                       to be fully implemented until 2012 and 2008, respectively, they anticipate
                       being able to exchange some degree of clinical information through an
                       interface between DOD’s clinical data repository and VA’s planned health
                       data repository by the end of calendar year 2005. VA officials explained
                       that by that time, they expect to have developed the HealtheVet (VistA)
                       health data repository to a point at which it will have limited data.
                       However, the departments have not yet articulated exactly what data will
                       be available.

                       Also critical, VA and DOD have begun adopting data standards. Data
                       standardization is essential to allowing the exchange of health information
                       from disparate systems and improving decision-making by providing
                       health information when and where it is needed. In accordance with the
                       Consolidated Health Informatics Initiative,12 in March 2003, VA and DOD,
                       along with the Department of Health and Human Services, announced the
                       adoption of four standards to allow the transmission of messages and one
                       standard that allows laboratory results to be presented uniformly in any
                       system. In addition, VA officials stated that the departments have
                       examined and concluded that their existing legislation and policies meet
                       the intent of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.


VA and DOD Face        VA and DOD face key challenges to completing HealthePeople (Federal)
Challenges in Moving   that raise doubts as to when and to what extent a true virtual health
Toward HealthePeople   record will be achieved. Although a high-level strategy exists, the
                       HealthePeople (Federal) joint work group faces the challenge of clearly
(Federal)              articulating a common health information infrastructure and architecture
                       to show how they intend to achieve the data exchange capability, or just
                       what they will be able to exchange by the end of 2005. Such an
                       architecture is necessary for ensuring that the departments have defined a
                       level of detail and specificity needed to build the data repository interface,
                       including interface requirements and design specifications. For example,
                       having detailed specifications would assist VA in making critical decisions
                       such as the manner in which it will store its electronic data. According to
                       VA officials, they have not yet determined whether one central or several
                       regional data repositories would best facilitate access to the patient


                       12
                         The Consolidated Health Informatics Initiative, created under the President’s
                       Management Agenda, identified a portfolio of 24 target areas for data and messaging
                       standards that would enable all agencies in the federal health enterprise to more readily
                       exchange clinical health information.



                       Page 9                                        GAO-04-271T VA/DOD Health Data Exchange
information and achieve the timely response rates required by clinicians at
its medical facilities.

Another critical challenge to successfully implementing HealthePeople
(Federal) will be completing the standardization of the data elements of
each department’s health records. While standards for laboratory results
were adopted in 2003, VA and DOD face a significant undertaking to
standardize the remaining health data. To lend perspective to the enormity
of this task, according to the joint strategy that VA and DOD have
developed, VA will have to migrate over 150 variations of clinical and
demographic data to one standard, and DOD will have to migrate over 100
variations of clinical data to one standard. VA officials have indicated that
as various HealtheVet (VistA) applications are developed, they plan to
incorporate clinical data standards. Further, they and DOD officials
maintain that their departments, along with the Department of Health and
Human Services, are actively pursuing the development and adoption of
such data standards. Nonetheless, they remain uncertain as to what degree
of standardization (beyond the laboratory result standard that has been
adopted) will be achieved by the 2005 milestone for implementing the two-
way exchange of health information.


In summary, in pursuing an electronic exchange of patient health
information, VA and DOD are taking a vital step toward facilitating
services to our nation’s active duty personnel and veterans. The ability to
readily access medical records covering the lifecycle of service members
and veterans would enhance the effectiveness of care to these individuals.
In working toward this capability, VA and DOD have achieved a measure
of success in sharing data, as evidenced by VA clinicians now having
access to military health records for veterans through FHIE. However, a
virtual medical record based on the two-way exchange of data between VA
and DOD is far from being achieved. The departments face significant
challenges in realizing this longer term strategy. Without having clearly
articulated a common health information infrastructure and architecture,
the departments lack the details and specificity essential to determining
how they will achieve the data exchange capability.

Mr. Chairman, this concludes my statement. I would be pleased to respond
to any questions that you or other members of the Subcommittee may
have at this time.




Page 10                               GAO-04-271T VA/DOD Health Data Exchange
                  For information regarding this testimony, please contact Linda D. Koontz,
Contacts and      Director, or Valerie Melvin, Assistant Director, Information Management
Acknowledgments   Issues, at (202) 512-6240 or at koontzl@gao.gov or melvinv@gao.gov,
                  respectively. Other individuals making key contributions to this testimony
                  include Barbara S. Oliver, Eric L. Trout, Michael P. Fruitman, and J.
                  Michael Resser.




(310362)
                  Page 11                              GAO-04-271T VA/DOD Health Data Exchange
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Waste, and Abuse in      E-mail: fraudnet@gao.gov
Federal Programs         Automated answering system: (800) 424-5454 or (202) 512-7470


                         Jeff Nelligan, Managing Director, NelliganJ@gao.gov (202) 512-4800
Public Affairs           U.S. General Accounting Office, 441 G Street NW, Room 7149
                         Washington, D.C. 20548